After Seeing Black Swan at Fifteen

Natalie Portman teaches me how to touch
             myself. Her body writhing in the bathtub,
hips arcing up out of the big screen: an offering.
             For years, I will only rub over the lace of my panties,
the warmdark of me too intimate even for my own fingers.
            I was perfect, she says breathily, in the final act,
blood blooming against the white of her feathered bodice.
Another girlish corpse hurtling deathward. At church,
             I pray for god to make me clean and count the minutes
until I can shroud myself in bedsheet & dance
into the sweat-ringed arms of sleep. The last & only person
             to see my budding body naked took a scalpel to it
(and how am I to know, years later, a lover will use the scar
as a road map? Lick the salt from its seam?). Pleasure,
             for me, has always come pricked with the embroidery of shame.
I take my right hand and deliver myself from evil
into the sleek ‘S’ of a swan. This myth doesn’t end how you think it will.
Not in flight         not in birth        but in song.

Caroline Shea is a writer and poetry editor at Green Writers Press. She lives in Stamford, Connecticut. Formerly the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Vantage Point Magazine, her own work has appeared in Maps For Teeth Magazine, Bad Pony Magazine, and COG Magazine, among others.